SARASOTA, Fla. -- Manager John Oates has set his pitching rotation for the Orioles' first four exhibitions, but won't reveal until today when the 10 prospective starters will take the mound.
"The 10 starters will all pitch in the first four games," Oates said. "We know who's going to open up, but I don't want to say anything until I've talked to the pitchers."
Two groups of pitchers have been working out the past nine days, 11 in each cluster. The Orioles will play the Cardinals in St. Petersburg on Friday afternoon -- and play every day thereafter, except for the day before the season opener.
The 10 starters who will work the first four games are: Bob Milacki, Ben McDonald, Mike Mussina, Rick Sutcliffe, Storm Davis, Dennis Rasmussen, Eric Hetzel, Jose Mesa, Arthur Rhodes and Anthony Telford.
"We'll start everybody off with two innings, about 30 pitches, then go to three innings and 45 pitches," Oates said.
McDonald on schedule
Although there had been some indication the Orioles would go slow with Ben McDonald this spring, he is scheduled to follow the game plan set for the other starters.
"He's right on schedule with everybody else," Oates said of the big right-hander, who has come out of spring training on the disabled list each of the past two years. "He's healthy, ready, willing -- and he's going.
"It's very obvious that the work he's done over the winter has been good for him. Ben's name has not appeared once on the treatment sheet.
Intrasquad games this week
The Orioles will play intrasquad games during their final two workouts in Sarasota on Wednesday and Thursday, then break camp and move north to St. Petersburg, which will be their base until April 2.
Left-handers Jim Poole and Israel Sanchez are the only two pitchers not scheduled to work in the squad games. Poole, believed to have a touch of tendinitis, is not scheduled to throw again until Thursday, and then work his way back into the program.
"The plan is to keep me off the mound for 10 days," Poole said. That would keep him out of at least the first four exhibition games.
Catcher Chris Hoiles agreed to a one-year contract yesterday, leaving the Orioles with 14 unsigned players.
Hoiles, 26, was handed the No. 1 catcher job when Bob Melvin was traded to the Kansas City Royals during the off-season. He hit .243, with 11 home runs and 31 RBI in 1991.
Hoiles, who has more than a year to go before becoming eligible for arbitration, will make $175,000.
Three pitchers have been hit by a flu bug. Hetzel, Rhodes and reliever Gregg Olson were slowed by the virus.
"It's just one of those 24-hour things," Oates said. All three were in uniform yesterday.
Orioles president Larry Lucchino has had discussions with officials of a new Washington all-sports radio station, scheduled to begin the format in mid-April, but he wouldn't indicate whether the club was looking to change its broadcast affiliation in the D.C. area.
The new station, WTEM, reportedly offered the Orioles more for the radio rights than the $875,000 the current agreement with WTOP is worth. The Orioles' contract with WTOP runs through the 1993 season.
"They have informed us of their plans, but any further discussion of our conversation is not appropriate for public debate," said Lucchino.
Yesterday's workout was the longest thus far, stretching to five hours.
"We got a lot done," said Oates, who offered the usual pronouncement that the pitchers were ahead of the hitters. "Even the ones who played winter ball are behind."